AS Roma’s American owner James Pallotta on Wednesday revealed plans for a new 52,500-seat stadium, which the club hopes to open in 2016. The project will be financed privately and will include other entertainment sites and mass transit additions, which are expected to cost more than $300 million.
In an interview with The New York Times, Pallotta noted, “The stadium is a very important piece for us. With the stadium there and if we do what our plans say we’re going to do, I believe we can be one of the top three clubs in the world. That’s the goal — I’m not afraid to say it.”
As the Times article points out, Pallotta is attacking one of the main problems with Italy’s soccer infrastructure, the fact that no team, with the exception of two-time defending champion Juventus, owns its own stadium. Roma currently shares space with its city rival Lazio at the decrepit Stadio Olimpico, which belongs to the city, and is maintained by it.
Sean Barror, Roma’s chief commercial officer and a longtime associate of Pallotta’s, likened the situation to what might have been found in England’s Premier League in the 1990s. “It’s generally realized that there is a significant infrastructure issue in Italy,” he said. “But all of it is linked together. The one thing the leagues in England and Germany have done is embrace progress in a lot of ways, and we’re trying to be at the front end of it here.”